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There's a heat wave in town—here are 8 ways to cool down

Beat the heat with these tactics

Thermometer rising above 100 degrees F with the bright sun in the background Credit: Getty Images / MarianVejcik

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Humid and balmy days are what make summer feel like summer, right? Heck yeah! Some of us absolutely love the heat. Others, however, do not. Regardless of your personal climate preferences, when a heat wave strikes summer fun can become uncomfortable and even dangerous for everyone.

Thankfully, whether you live in Maine or Georgia, you can manage the effects of high temperatures if you’re prepared and have a little know-how. We've done the research for you, and here are a handful of ways to beat the heat.

1. Use fans and air conditioning to cool down your house

The Best Window Air Conditioners
Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Oliver

An air conditioner can bring the temperature way down in your home.

Don’t worry—your home can become a cool retreat, even if you don’t have central A/C.

Portable air conditioners and window air conditioners each provide cold air and temperature control when you need it. One or the other may be better for you, depending on your living space and set-up. Window units are meant to be installed in the window of a room—maybe your bedroom—that you always want cool, no matter what. Whereas, PACs are ideal for an apartment or condo housing one to two people who only really need to cool one room at a time and can lift and carry an air conditioner with them.

Fans are also a great option for keeping your home cool. Plus, they're significantly more energy-efficient than air conditioners.

One tried-and-true way to help hot air escape the home is by creating a cross-breeze from two open windows on opposite sides of a room. This airflow pushes cold air in and warm air out. You can also achieve a cross-breeze effectively by opening up the chimney or a window on your roof. Known as the “chimney” or “stack” effect, this allows hot air to naturally rise out of the home, while cool air pushes through from your floor-level windows.

Pro tip: Maximize the effectiveness of a ceiling fan by setting it to spin counterclockwise—this sucks hotter air up higher and pushes cooler air back down, creating a wind-chill breeze.

2. Bring down your home's dew point with a dehumidifier

Credit: Getty Images / Mady70

Humid air can make a home feel much warmer than it actually is.

A dehumidifier is also key in reducing the feels-like temperature in your home. Humid air tends to feel much hotter than dry air, so investing in a dehumidifier isn’t a bad idea. They work by removing water vapor from the air, leaving you with drier air that naturally feels cooler than humid air.

If heat and humidity are common in your region (New Orleans, Houston, Orlando), a dehumidifier is essential for creating a cooler space. There are many other benefits you’ll get with dehumidifiers, too, like the elimination of common allergens.

3. Stay hydrated—it's essential to staying cool

Best Water Bottles
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Drinking lots of water during a heat wave keeps you hydrated.

One of the most obvious yet often overlooked ways to cool down is by keeping your body hydrated. Experts say if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. The CDC recommends drinking water before, during, and after activities. Grab a water bottle to carry with you—it will help you to stay consistently hydrated throughout the day.

During a heatwave, you should also limit your caffeine intake and avoid alcohol, as these are both dehydrating to the body. Conversely, you should increase your intake of water-based fruits and vegetables, like melons and leafy greens, to keep your hydration going—this helps your body temperature regulate in hotter environments.

4. Chill out with cold water

a family of four swims in a pool
Credit: Getty Images

Cool off in cold water during a heat wave.

Sometimes, the best solution to heat and humidity is simple cold water. Along with staying hydrated and regularly drinking water throughout the day, actually wading in some cold water—like a lake, pond, ocean, or pool—just feels so good.

If you don't have an in-ground or above-ground pool in your own yard, an inflatable one or even a kiddie pool works just as well. Sprinklers, too, keep kids entertained and refreshed all day.

5. Park yourself in the shade

Patio dining set with large outdoor umbrella
Credit: Getty Images / Jawcam

A large patio umbrella provides ample shade from the sun and can help prevent heat stroke.

Between hot temperatures and the UV index, spending time directly in the sun can cause heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and painful sunburns.

Instead, embrace the shade in your yard. Stock up on patio umbrellas, pergolas with a sun shade, or a retractable awning; these all protect you from direct sunlight and make relaxing on the patio much more enjoyable.

6. Dress yourself in light, breathable fabrics

Woman wearing rayon tank top by Madewell, woman lounging in rayon dress by UNIQLO
Credit: Madewell / UNIQLO

Breathable clothing keeps you cool.

What you wear in the heat makes a massive difference in how you feel. Look toward light, breathable fabrics for your clothes, as these provide cooling relief for even the hottest days and some even protect from UVA rays. You can also try more natural fabrics, like hemp and linen.

7. Get creative with cooling personal products

Credit: The Body Shop

Personal products, like a peppermint foot spray, smells great and can keep you feeling cool in hot weather.

Having products to keep your skin cool, like a freezing face mask or a peppermint foot spray, on hand make handling the heat so much easier.

Something like a personal mister delivers quick bursts of cold water, making this a go-to companion while working on your yard, hiking, tanning outdoors, or lounging in an Adirondack chair on your front porch.

8. Move your fitness routines indoors

an older couple practices arm stretching while sitting on the floor
Credit: Getty Images / Nattakorn Maneerat

You can exercise during a heat wave, just do it indoors where temperatures are cooler.

Always take caution while exerting yourself or working out in hot weather. If the temperature and heat index rises to dangerous levels that make vigorous or strenuous physical activity unsafe, move your workout into a cool, air-conditioned space.

Strenuous exercise includes jogging, running, boxing, push-ups, pull-ups, and jumping jacks, according to the CDC. Going for a relaxed walk around the block can be a safe alternative—just make sure to check the weather beforehand.

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